The death penalty imposed on former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is a ‘verdict that is fitting for a reign of terror,’ Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said on tv programme Buitenhof. ‘Justice has been done’ to his victims, the prime minister said, adding that the Netherlands is opposed to the death penalty.
Foreign minister Ben Bot welcomed the announcement. Even though the Netherlands was opposed to the death penalty, he said he understood that the ‘maximum penalty has been imposed, given the seriousness of the crimes.’ Bot was speaking during his visit to Afghanistan.
Human rights group Amnesty International said it was very unhappy at the verdict, and ‘disappointed’ in the Dutch prime minister’s reaction. The EU’s condemnation of the death penalty was ‘far more appropriate’, Amnesty spokesman Ruud Bosgraaf told the Volkskrant.
EU President Finland called on Iraq not to carry out the death penalty because the EU ‘in all cases and under all circumstances is opposed to it’.
TV programme, Who’s Next, reported today that Dutch lawyer Geert-Jan Knoops has been informally asked to help prepare Saddam Hussein’s appeal. Knoops said he didn’t know why he had been approached, but suggested it could be connected to his work on the legal status of Guantanamo Bay prisoners.
Knoops also said that international reaction to the death penalty verdict, including that of Balkenende, was ‘somewhat worrying’.
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